Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Parents engage with their children's learning

We have been focussing on publishing student outcomes in online spaces to motivate and engage students in their learning, with a particular focus on literacy outcomes. Our research results have shown that this is highly effective, with students saying things like, "I like writing now because I know that people read it." It shouldn't really have needed a researcher to tell us that writing with only the teacher as an audience is not very motivating!

We have also discovered that working with students in this way is very motivating for teachers because they get feedback - albeit via the kids work - in a new and authentic way.

But we have had a real sense of validation as we have started to see our parents engage with our students through their online work. We publish the students work mostly through blogs, and we have made the settings very public. No passwords required to read, and no passwords required to comment. So we have been finding that our parents are being generous and as well as supporting their own child, they are leaving affirming comments on the work of children other than their own.

For anyone unfamiliar with our district, the majority of our families do not have computers or internet access at home and so we don't take their interaction online for granted. But anyone who overlooks the impact of Facebook on every age group of adults is out of touch with life in 2010. Our young mums at school may not have the gear at home, but because they use Facebook they get themselves connected at different times during the week - friend's places, internet cafe, library etc - and it is up to us to suggest ways they can interact with their own child online at the same time. We have been gathering email addresses from our parents and including them in the Settings (Email and Mobile tab) so they receive an email every time the class or student posts. We are also teaching those with Facebook how to add an RSS feed to their page so they can receive updates there.

Last week we held a Home School partnership meeting at night to teach our parents how to respond to their children's blog posts. We were taken by surprise when 93 parents turned up! This Flip video shows them listening to a preamble in the hall before they went off to classrooms to enjoy a 'hands on' blogging experience - leaving 160 kids with the principal for 'baby sitting'!